Brightline/Virgin Trains (FEC) Update

Discussion in 'High Speed and Other Non-Amtrak Intercity Rail' started by Anderson, Jun 5, 2012.

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  1. Aug 15, 2019 #2526

    cirdan

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    Quite besides the project itself being exciting, that is one awesome piece of 3D animation rendering.
     
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  2. Aug 16, 2019 #2527

    dogbert617

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    Speaking of the talk about Vegas-LA area train service on the last page(and it'd be nice if say that got to at least Palmdale), has anyone ever tried to ride the Amtrak Thruway connection(not sure who operates that, exactly) between McCarran Airport(leaves there around 9:30pm) to Kingman, AZ(arrives about 1am), then boarded the SW Chief slightly afterward to go east from Kingman? Myself, I've always wondered how doable of a thruway bus connection, that was to get to the SW Chief. I'm not so sure I'd want to do this the other way, since it gets to the airport at about 3am in the morning! Thanks, to anyone who could fill me in about that thruway bus connection. If I don't hear any responses about the Kingman bus connection here, I may repost this question as a different thread.
     
  3. Aug 16, 2019 #2528

    jis

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  4. Aug 17, 2019 #2529

    Anderson

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    Just as an aside, "SanBag" is one of the more amusing acronyms I've run across.
     
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  5. Aug 17, 2019 #2530

    jis

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    A cute one I have come across in the UK is GOBLIN for Gospel Oak - Barking LINe, a circumferential suburban line operated by London Overground in the Northeast of London
     
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2019
  6. Aug 18, 2019 #2531

    grover5995

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    Chicago-Milwaukee Hiawatha Corridor could be a good candidate for fast, frequent service with Brightline equipment. Tracks are in good shape with few curves which would allow speeds up to 110mph north of suburban territory with diesel or electric power. North Shore line used to run 90 miles in 90 minutes as recently as 1962 with modified streetcars.
     
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  7. Aug 19, 2019 #2532

    Anderson

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    I think your practical need for VT to get into something involving a UK-style franchise in the US is as follows:
    -Long-term contract (7-30 years, depending);
    -Limited room for the state to demand lots of or;
    -Either a single private-sector host railroad or some sort of more permissive state contract with all parties involved.
     
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  8. Aug 19, 2019 #2533

    Qapla

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    They had a spot on our local TV news the other night. Seems some of the people who are moving into a fairly new neighborhoods along the Interstate where VT is clearing ROW for their tracks are complaining. They are not happy that their "tree buffer" between them and the Interstate is being removed.

    Mind you, that ROW has been designated for use by rail for way longer than any of those neighborhoods have existed. Didn't they read their land use contracts before signing on the dotted line? They will just have to live with it or move - they are not going to stop the rail now that ground has been broken.
     
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  9. Aug 19, 2019 #2534

    cirdan

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    If the tracks belong to a private sector railroad, some better arrangement would be required than is currently the case with Amtrak. Such as some financial incentive for the host railroad to actually ensure schedules are respected.

    I also especially agree with your second point. One of the biggest problems affecting Amtrak is lack of long term certainty. Technically the budget can be cut at any time, or any number of new demands and restrictions can be imposed, virtually overnight. One advantage of the UK type of franchising is that you have a reliable framework of funding for the duration and the rules also remain unchanged during that period. Of course there is still exposure to unpredictables, such as maybe a massive economic recession leading to loss of ridership. But at least you are fairly resiilient to unpredictables of the type caused directly by people in power, be they motivated by malice or merely by incompetence.
     
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  10. Aug 21, 2019 #2535

    chrsjrcj

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    July 2019 vs July 2018:
    Ridership - 83,741 +61% (52,162)
    Revenue - $1.7 million +73% ($1 million)

    It also looks like ticket prices will dramatically increase on October 1st, likely in anticipation of snow bird season.

    https://emma.msrb.org/ER1248477-ER976238-ER1377491.pdf
     
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  11. Aug 21, 2019 #2536

    jis

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    Last edited: Aug 21, 2019
  12. Aug 23, 2019 #2537

    jis

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  13. Aug 24, 2019 #2538

    Palmetto

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    Good P.R. And Elliot likes trains!
     
  14. Aug 25, 2019 #2539

    Anderson

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    I think we've been expecting PortMiami as a stop for some time (in conjunction with the cruise port, if nothing else). Given the track configuration, I do wonder how that will be run (especially with the existing equipment constraints).
     
  15. Aug 25, 2019 #2540

    jis

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    I suspect that the "Cruise Connector"s will be a service that is separate from the regular clock face corridor service, and will be explicitly timed to meet Virgin Cruise arrivals and departures.

    There is ample space on the pier to install a high level platform along one of the tracks, possibly the one closest to the main road onto the pier. They'll probably have to use an army of golf carts to transfer folks from the train to the ship, specially those with mobility issues.
     
  16. Aug 26, 2019 #2541

    Brian_tampa

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    With VTUSA buying only 3 additional trainsets for the start of the Orlando service in 2022, and with 30 minute departure schedules every morning in South florida, I find it highly unlikely that the port service will be anything more than a few trains each day to the port, if that. At least until 2025 if they decide to buy more trainsets than the 3. They plan to run at most 8 RT's to Orlando at the start of Orlando service I have been told. Based on the backlog of orders at Siemens, this limited service (compared to the 16RT service to Orlando they advertised previously) will be in place for the foreseeable future. Either VTUSA gives up their desire to be commuter rail for South Florida, or they focus on the intercity travel market to Orlando which by necessity will include the Port of Miami service. They can't have it both ways. Their new order includes 7 locomotives and 20 coaches. That makes 8 trainsets total with 5 coach cars each. So far, no cafe cars have been ordered. I think VTUSA is being very cautious on spending money for more rolling stock based on their ridership numbers so far which seem to have leveled off at 80-90k per month.

    As far as the location of the platform at the port, I doubt they would use the existing container loading tracks. That is an industrial area not suitable for passengers. I suspect they will build their own track and platform north of there close to the cruise ship terminal buildings. That will also minimize any impact on FECR operations at the port.
     
  17. Aug 26, 2019 #2542

    AGM.12

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    If they relinquish the commuter option I am sure this will open the way for Tri Rail service on this route.
     
  18. Aug 26, 2019 #2543

    Bob Dylan

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    Interesting misleading blurb in today's Austin American- Real Estatesman about a Couple being Married on a 79 MPH " High Speed":rolleyes: Brightline Train between Ft. Lauderdale and West Palm Beach.
     
  19. Aug 26, 2019 #2544

    jis

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    It is quite unlikely that VTUSA will relinquish anything without taking their pound of flesh out of it. Remember they own 50% of the dispatching and track management company. They indirectly get to set the trackage charges and get a cut from it.

    With them setting up all these new stations in that relatively short segment, I find it hard to believe that they would entirely relinquish the commuter option. Indeed even the Miami WPB service is essentially a commuter operation in the broader context of the voerall service possibilities. It is sort of like New York to Trenton with two to five stops, like the NJT outer zone commuter trains.
     
  20. Aug 26, 2019 #2545

    Anderson

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    I thought they were supposed to have ten sets for the Orlando service (eight sets being the bare minimum needed for hourly service from Miami to Orlando, with the presumption of one spare "just in case")?

    Of course, seeing the mention of 8x/day to Orlando, that seems doable with eight sets. In their shoes I'd probably want a ninth set for spare coverage/flexibility, but I can see eight working.

    As to cafe space, in Virgin's shoes I'd probably be looking to make do with a more aggressive "snack cart" service.

    One issue I see with this situation is that the train equipment is, pardon the phrase, rather a fart in a hurricane as far as the overall capex goes. A five-car trainset with two locomotives is probably...$15m for the cars and maybe $20m for the locomotives* whereas the underlying construction has run several billion dollars overall.

    On the commuter front, I think that's still an open question. A 32x/day commuter run over an 80-mile corridor at $15/train-mile would kick out $28m/yr in track access fees. For reference, I believe that MARC pays something like $26/mile. But that might also come with complications for dispatch priorities and so on, to say nothing of comparative ticket prices. So while a deal is clearly desirable for both sides here, the form it might take is very much TBD.

    *The order prices I've seen hover between $7-11m/locomotive.
     
  21. Aug 27, 2019 #2546

    Brian_tampa

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    i saw the number of trainsets spelled out in the last PAB prospectus. not sure why they aren't adding 5 as originally proposed. at the April FDFC meeting in Orlando I asked one of the brightline engineers/construction managers about this. he explained the 8RT service as the initial service with ramp up over time to 16RT each day. no timeline was given for that but I assume they want to see how the ridership is??

    I also read 3 or 4 years ago that the Siemens contract for the initial 5 trainsets plus service agreement was around $400M.
    Edit- that info was on an EB5 visa investment web site. I think part of that amount was a loan from Siemens at that time. also I think this is also mentioned in the first successful PAB documents under the contracts links in the 2017 prospectus.
     
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2019
  22. Aug 27, 2019 #2547

    Anderson

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    Taking a stab at guessing the portions of the cost, the original five sets (four cars plus two locomotives...say, $32m/set for $3m/car plus $10m/locomotive) "should" have cost somewhere around $160m. Even "aiming high" that might have been $200m ($40m/set), which feels high. Of course, if that also comes with an all-inclusive service agreement covering something like 20 years (not an unreasonable life cycle on the locomotive side of things) that also feels like a less crazy deal. $80m/set for four-car trainsets without an included maintenance contract would be criminally bad handling.
     
  23. Aug 29, 2019 #2548

    MARC Rider

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    Hey, compared to the speed of the Acela Express between New Rochelle and New Haven, 79 mph is "high Speed!" :)
     
  24. Aug 31, 2019 #2549

    Brian_tampa

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    Just saw this on another railfan website,

    https://www.trainorders.com/discussion/read.php?4,4858273

    Seems that there are some cancelled trains on the Hiawatha service possibly due to issues with the new Siemens Charger locomotives. Nothing specific yet but it points to spare parts availability. But is interesting how Brightline rarely cancels trains. Perhaps their full maintenance and service agreement with Siemens helps keep them running?

    https://new.siemens.com/us/en/products/mobility/rail-solutions/services/maintenance-services.html

    Perhaps spending more upfront to guarantee reliability actually pays off down the road for their customers? This explains the $400M contract Brightline signed with Siemens 3 years ago to purchase, maintain, and service their trainsets. Too bad Amtrak and the states could not do similar.
     
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  25. Sep 1, 2019 #2550

    MikefromCrete

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    Last message on the TrainOrders site says locomotive wasn't the problem. Most of the posts seem to be guessing about what's happening, so I wouldn't take it seriously.
     
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